Monday, May 04, 2009

Selena Roberts & Journalistic Credibility

[Update III, Wednesday 1.32pm: Jason Whitlock, who was right from the start about the lacrosse case, has penned another powerful column critiquing Roberts' "credibility issues." As he observes,

Place your trust in the writer. And Roberts' reaction to the exoneration of the Duke lacrosse players calls into question her credibility. By refusing to acknowledge her mistakes in the Duke case, she creates the impression that her agenda trumps the truth.

She looks like a feminist version of Al Sharpton.

Read the entire column here.

[Update II, Tuesday, 10.56am: In today's Newsday, Neil Best discusses Roberts' defense of her writings on the lacrosse case:

Many readers have not forgotten or forgiven her strident columns for The New York Times on the Duke lacrosse scandal in 2006.

Roberts acknowledged that disgraced and disbarred district attorney Mike Nifong did a "horrible" job on the criminal case, but she said that did not alter her take on the culture behind the incident.

"That [criminal] issue is a horrible thing that should not have happened," she said. "But people want to conflate the crime and the culture. They want to say a crime did not happen, so therefore the culture that existed around that party did not happen."

Roberts' views on Nifong appear to have evolved from his having "mishandled" the case to his having done a "horrible" job on the case. She still has not been quoted anywhere as saying that there, in fact, was no case, and that Crystal Mangum's allegations were a complete hoax.

More problematic, however, is Roberts' continuing whitewashing of what she actually wrote at the time the case broke: "People want to conflate the crime and the culture. They want to say a crime did not happen, so therefore the culture that existed around that party did not happen."

As noted below, one of the first prominent figures to "conflate the crime and the culture" was Selena Roberts. Her initial column on the case (March 31, 2006, analyzed below) was riddled with factual errors, all of which made it appear as if a crime likely occurred; and, more important, was organized around a thesis that the "culture" of the team was inextricably linked to the "crime": namely, that the "culture" of the team explained why no one was willing to "snitch" on the alleged attackers.

Only as the case collapsed did Roberts evolve into the thesis that "a story doesn't have to rise to the level of a crime to rise to the level of a column." That statement, of course, is clearly true. But even a column has to be factually accurate; and even a columnist can't rewrite what she has already published. That Roberts still refuses to acknowledge her factual errors in the initial column, and continues to mislead the public about the specific thesis of her initial work on the case speaks volumes about her credibility.

After all, to quote Roberts herself, publishing is "like being in court—once you say something, you can’t just strike it.”

[Update I, Monday, 1.25pm: To their credit, in an interview this morning, WFAN's Boomer and Carton did ask Roberts about her troubling writings on the case. Roberts refused to apologize to the families of the three falsely accused players; she refused to say one way or another whether she believed a crime occurred; and she continued to suggest that something "reprehensible" occurred at the party--namely, that photographs were taken of Crystal Mangum; and that one lacrosse player responded with a racial slur after Kim Roberts initiated an exchange with a racial taunt. By the same token, she described Mike Nifong merely as having "mishandled" the case. How Roberts reached the conclusion that "reprehensible" can describe the tasteless behavior of a handful of college students and while the far softer "mishandled" can describe the behavior of a DA who lied to the court and withheld evidence she did not elucidate.

A question I would like to see asked of Roberts. "Since your book on A-Rod relies so heavily on anonymous sources, to test its credibility we must test your credibility. Given that, in writing, you falsely (a) claimed that authorities were accusing the Duke lacrosse players of a "hate crime"; (b) stated that Crystal Mangum was "treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape"; and (c) charged of the players that "none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account," why should anyone believe anything you write about A-Rod? After all, if you saw fit to print false items in one high-profile case--false items that you have refused to correct--what's to say you might be willing to print false items in another high-profile case?"]


[Original Post:] Today, Selena Roberts’ exposé of Alex Rodriguez hits the bookstores. We already know that Rodriguez is a bald-faced liar with what could charitably be described as a host of other character flaws.

But what about Roberts? In a recent interview with the MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Roberts affirmed that her obligation as a journalist was to “find the truth.” And, according to Harry Stein, she told ESPN Radio that she “buttoned up every single hole to make sure to be absolutely right . . . It’s like being in court—once you say something, you can’t just strike it.”

It’s not clear when Roberts adopted this definition of journalism: her writing on the Duke case demonstrated an aversion to, rather than a quest for, the truth. Nor has she in any way acknowledged the myriad errors in her Duke coverage. Indeed, she has done the opposite, most spectacularly in a 2008 interview with The Big Lead, in which she blatantly misrepresented her guilt-presuming 2006 columns on the case.

Press reports suggest that the most explosive allegations in Roberts’ book are based on anonymous sources. So, in effect, her portrayal of Rodriguez rests on her credibility as a reporter. Since Roberts herself has stated that being a reporter is “like being in court—once you say something, you can’t just strike it,” it’s worth reviewing exactly what Roberts said, and what evidence she had for saying it, about the lacrosse case.


March 31, 2006: “When Peer Pressure, Not a Conscience, Is Your Guide

Something happened March 13, when a woman, hired to dance at a private party, alleged that three lacrosse players sexually assaulted her in a bathroom for 30 minutes.

Of course, nothing “happened” except for a false claim of rape, a possibility Roberts never appears to have entertained.

According to reported court documents, she was raped, robbed, strangled and was the victim of a hate crime.

Roberts was in a world of her own in describing a search warrant as a “reported court document.” (The Times was forced to run a correction several days later.) No item in the case file—“reported court document” or otherwise—ever contended that Crystal Mangum was the “victim of a hate crime.” The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.

[Mangum] was also reportedly treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape.

Roberts’ description of the medical reports was false. The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.

Players have been forced to give up their DNA, but to the dismay of investigators, none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account.

This statement was outright false (the three captains gave detailed “eyewitness accounts,” including DNA samples, which they gave voluntarily). The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.

For days, Durham residents and Duke students have rallied on behalf of sexual-assault victims, banging pots and pans, hoping to stir more action out of Duke’s president, Richard H. Brodhead. The indignation has been heartening . . .

That Roberts, like the Group of 88, considered it “heartening” to see protesters blanket the campus with “wanted” posters or carry enormous “castrate” signs speaks volumes as to her values. Roberts has never retracted or amended her praise for the potbangers.

The season is over, but the paradox lives on in Duke’s lacrosse team, a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.

Attending a tasteless spring break party is enough to “belie [college students’] social standing as human beings”? Apart from Roberts’ apparent ideological comrades at schools like BYU and Liberty, it seems she has a very low opinion of thousands of college students.

But why is it so hard to gather the facts? Why is any whisper of a detail akin to snitching? . . . Does President Brodhead dare to confront the culture behind the lacrosse team’s code of silence or would he fear being ridiculed as a snitch?

About the only place in which a tasteless spring break party could be compared to gang activity is on the mean streets of the lily-white, upper-class Connecticut suburb in which Roberts (who preaches “diversity” for everyone else) chose to live.

Article total: beyond the dubious analogies and the rush-to-judgment assertion that “something happened,” four errors of fact, only one of which either Roberts or the Times ever acknowledged. Each factual error either made the lacrosse players look guilty or reinforced Roberts' assault on the players' character.


April 12, 2006: “Accountability Fails to Rise to the Top at Some Colleges

Duke’s lacrosse members established a ‘‘Lord of the Flies’’ ethos in Durham, N.C.

Along, apparently, with every other college student that ever attended a tasteless spring break party.

Now [Duke officials] act, fretting over the atmosphere of degradation, over the symptoms of misogyny.

When the Coleman Committee’s extensive report about the lacrosse players’ character found no “symptoms of misogyny,” Roberts was silent. When the women’s lacrosse team strongly rebutted the assault on their fellow students’ character, Roberts was silent. And when her then-Times colleague Harvey Araton displayed his own “symptom of misogyny” by dismissing as “gals” these 18- to 22-year-old Duke student-athletes, Roberts was, again, silent.


March 25, 2007: “Closing a Case Will Not Mean Closure at Duke

The North Carolina attorney general’s office—which took over the Duke lacrosse case in the winter from Michael B. Nifong, one part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo—denied any decision [to drop the case] was imminent.

Roberts never saw fit to mention that the Bar charged Nifong with engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” and conspiring to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence.” Instead, she described him as “one part district attorney, one part clueless Columbo.” Columbo, played by Peter Falk, “put on a good show of being dim-witted so that the criminals and even his colleagues would be more at ease around him”; he was the “deceptively bumbling” lieutenant who used his appearance as the fool to solve the crime. Was Roberts intending to remind readers that, each week on TV, Columbo deliberately used his “clueless” nature to solve the crime?

Unnamed critics, Roberts added, wanted her to “lay off the lacrosse pipeline to Wall Street, excuse the khaki-pants crowd of SAT wonder kids.”

Roberts frequently had suggested that boosters exercise too much power in college athletics, that they exploit athletes to massage their own egos or to advance agendas that contradict the goal of higher education. But for the lacrosse team, a different standard seemed to apply. Its 100 percent graduation rate, heavy representation on the conference academic honor roll, and many good jobs upon graduation could be construed by Roberts as a bad thing.

To many, the alleged crime and culture are intertwined . . . but the alleged crime and the culture are mutually exclusive.

That might have been so, but Roberts was not among that group. In her initial article on the case—the one in which she asserted that “something happened” to Mangum, and “reported court documents” contained evidence of a “hate crime,” Roberts had linked the “alleged crime” and the “culture.” Rather than reconsider her biases, once the “alleged crime” collapsed, she simply “revised” her argument.

Apparently, no player could hold his own beer because public urination was an issue.

That sentence comports more with bawdy locker-room discussions than with the Times’ journalistic standards. But the editors, for reasons they never revealed, cleared Roberts’ insulting (and, for that matter, obviously inaccurate) assertion.


March 17, 2008: Interview with The Big Lead

Basically, I wrote that a crime didn’t have to occur for us to inspect the irrefutable evidence of misogyny and race baiting that went on that night . . . Obviously, some segments of the Duke lacrosse crowd did not enjoy the scrutiny of their world.

Of course, Roberts’ initial article had gone well beyond that: it had unequivocally asserted that “something happened” to Mangum, and “reported court documents” indicated a “hate crime.” Why did she misrepresent her work to The Big Lead readers?

Casting herself as the real victim in the affair, Roberts bizarrely contended that criticism of her work came from “Duke-player supporters who felt threatened when someone, whether it was me or another columnist, started poking at the culture of affluence and entitlement.”

In fact, the criticism of Roberts’ work extended even to the leadership of her former paper.

  • Times executive editor Bill Keller: “I did think, and I told the columnists, that there was a tendency in a couple of places to moralize before the evidence was all in, and not to give adequate weight to the presumption of innocence... As a generalization, I’m not dismissive of the people who think that what appeared in the sports columns kind of contributed to a sense that the Times declared these guys guilty.”
  • Times sports editor Tom Jolly: “I very much regret my failure to recognize that we were dealing with a rogue prosecutor and that the university had compounded his bravado by overreacting to the initial reports about the case . . . The bottom line is that I’d do some things differently, and that knowledge gained by hindsight has informed our approach to other stories since then.”


It may be that everything Roberts has written about Alex Rodriguez is accurate. But in coming woefully short of the standards of her profession and then refusing to come clean about her record, Selena Roberts sounds a lot like her portrayal of a certain high-profile third baseman.


skwilli said...

Go KC, go. This is your blog at its best! Roberts has no credibility whatever. The parts I have read so far are exactly like I previously suspected; poorly written, poorly sourced and poorly reasoned. I am a poor writer (a worse golfer!) and I can recognize crap when I see it. This is crap even if she stumbled onto some "truths" along the way.

Debrah said...

How do simpletons like Roberts ever get to where they are in the first place?

Who hired this woman to work for the Times?

Anonymous said...

Reading the Roberts selections again reminds one how a so-called journalist can shape the news to reflect his/her bias. That the NY Times did little to counteract the inaccuracies and outright lies within her articles also speaks to its credibility. Is it any wonder that the print media finds itself with fewer and fewer readers?

Anonymous said...

Selena Roberts is not interested in "seeking the truth"...she is a hack at best and that statement may denigrate hacks to a greater degree than necessary--she is the worst of the "truth seekers".
However, since I am an employee of a a school with similar standards as BYU and Liberty, may I say that we do not see college students who engage tasteless activities to not be human beings. On the contrary, we see them like we see ourselves, fallen people in need of a Redeemer. Please do not conflate our notion of proper behavior with that of an ideologue such as Selena Roberts.

Anonymous said...

Great post KC....You need to get on Francesa's WFAN show in NYC today. It may be a good way to pump your excellent book. Perfect venue for you

Debrah said...

Selena Roberts has a defender who is cut from the same cloth.

Anonymous said...

Is Roberts a columnist?

Anonymous said...

Is Roberts a Communist?

Debrah said...

More criticism of Roberts' previous work.

And, of course, this one.

Anonymous said...

"We already know that Rodriguez is a bald-faced liar with what could charitably be described as a host of other character flaws."

And with what should be acknowledged as a host of character virtues. For years, he's been a world-class athlete (which requires a persistent commitment to excellence), who has provided millions with inspiration and entertainment -- in a culture dominated by those who spit at greatness. To persist in the face of chronic envy requires a degree of psychological courage that most people cannot even imagine.

It is unfair for you to focus only on what you perceive as his "flaws."

Duke Prof

kcjohnson9 said...

To D.P.:

Quite so, but I'm a Red Sox fan: you have to allow me a little leeway :)

jamil hussein said...

Selena is mainstream "reporter/journalist" in the US ie political activist. NYT, Obamaweek (formerly Newsweek), CBS "News" and other MSM outlets consists entirely people like Selena.

A bit related info (from academia):,2933,518824,00.html

" sociology professor at the University of California Santa Barbara is in the center of a heated debate about academic freedom after he sent an e-mail comparing "parallel images of Nazis and Israelis" to 80 of his students in January.

Two of William Robinson's students dropped out of his sociology of globalization class after they received the e-mail. The message also caught the eye of at least two national Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which has called upon the tenured professor to "unequivocally repudiate" it."

Anonymous said...

I watched Matt Lauer's interview of Selena Roberts on the Today Show. Maybe it was too early for her to be specific, but she failed to answer any of Lauer's questions about the verifiability of her allegations other than to say"it meets the same litmus test of 2003" (whatever that means).

I must say, I was surprised at her inarticulation and her inability to make a reasonable case against A Rod or for her allegations.

The fact that A Rod's high school coach has denied any knowledge of A Rod's steroid use and the coach's son, who Roberts says "saw A Rod take steroids" refuses to return her calls is fairly telling. Her major point was that a body building "source" tells her that if he went from lifting 100 pounds to lifting 300 pounds, then that is "impossible" without steroid help.

Is that all she has? What a weak case . She looked terribly unsure of herself and would, without question be considered an untreliable witness in any court room.

Most depressing is that she admited that ALL of her allegations are based on hearsay and circumstatial evidence.

No, Lauer failed to ask Ms. Roberts about her role in the Duke LAX case.

Anonymous said...

Selena Roberts says: "once you say something, you can’t just strike it"

Note to Selena: True - but you can correct factual errors in your writing when they are found, and you can apologize for nasty remarks based on falsehoods. Your failure to do so tells us much about you. The failure of the NY Times to call on you to do so says much about that organization.

Anonymous said...

"To D.P.:

Quite so, but I'm a Red Sox fan: you have to allow me a little leeway :)"

I should have suspected that by "flaws" you meant playing for the greatest sports franchise in history :)

Duke Prof

Bill Anderson said...

Well, K.C. finally is outed! And by his own admission! (Actually, I had figured as such, given that he comes from Red Sox territory and that being the contrarian that he is, he would relish living in the heart of Yankeeland waving the Sox banner!)

Roberts is absolutely reprehensible. Does she have access to evidence that no one else has? If not, then she has uttered an absolute falsehood, and I would say that we should be careful of anything she says about A-Rod.

Now, the guy is an easy target, and Roberts seems to be good at piling on when it comes to easy targets. She has no shame and apparently no commitment to integrity.

Debrah said...

Yes, J. Hussein, all that is covered here with sensual brilliance.

Anonymous said...

The foundation for the Duke Hoax was the search for Tom Wolfe's Great White Defendant. Nifong needed the GWD to win the primary and didn't care about guilt or innocence. The MSM wanted it for their own purposes.

The sports columnists such as Selena Roberts and the resident "legal expert" for SI and ESPN Lester Munson, wanted the White Criminal Athlete. The WCA is desired in order to distract attention from the numerous black football and basketball players who are constantly being arrested.

In the Duke Hoax, the Great White Defendant and the White Criminal Athlete came together in one big story. I noticed that SI was almost as bad in their coverage as the New York Times. They wanted it to be true as much as they ever have any story. Apologies have been few and far between.


Anonymous said...

Remember also that John Feinstein (another SI "journalist") insisted that the players were guilty. DN is quite right that there was a desire to gind the White Criminal Athlete - all the better if the White Athlete played an elite sport (tennis, swimming, lacrosse, - any of those would do) and came from what could be perceived as a privileged background.

Debrah said...

They're talking about the fabulous dah-ling at EphBlog.

As usual, a bit of envy displayed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to cks for mentioning John Feinstein, who inferred that Duke Lacrosse players were very bad actors. If a Top 10 college football program's players behaved off the field and performed academically like the Duke LAX team, they would be lionized at every MSM sports outlet.

Lester Munson is a particular pet peeve of mine. I saw him on Catherine Crier's Court TV show in the summer of 2006. Munson screwed up his face in a show of indignation and said, "There was an air of menace in that house." This was months after the DNA tests came back negative. Munson went on to say that Nifong had a "much stronger case than thought."


Anonymous said...

This post was a tour de force! Credibility once lost is almost impossible to regain. For some reason, Selena Roberts feels that "anonymous sources" is the way for her to accomplish that difficult feat. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

First-class post, K.C.! I'm green with envy.

As I've mentioned earlier on this post, I am a former newspaper reporter. There are certain realities about using confidential sources in a story. (This includes a book.)

I'll emphasize the most important: When he or she uses a confidential source, The journalist's credibility goes on the line. His or her credibility is paramount. If informed and knowledgeable readers would not be convinced that they can trust the writer of the story to be scrupulously accurate and honest, the writer should not be permitted to use confidential sources. Think Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the Washington Post during the Watergate expose as one example of how it SHOULD BE done.

Why the New York Times permitted Selena Roberts to continue to write about the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax after her early columns blew up in its face, I cannot fathom. And why her book publisher permitted her to cite confidential sources after her track record at The Times is another mystery.

Lawsuits against newspapers and book publishers are not all that uncommon. And the definition of "Malice" is something both The Times and Roberts' book publisher should be contemplating seriously.

I was also shocked by the tepid nature of The Times editors' apologies to the reading public.

It is sad. The journalistic quality of several of the mainstream news media is going down the drain. In earlier times, someone like Selena Roberts would likely have been fired, or at least demoted.

Gus W.

f1guyus said...

As I said in a post on our local newspaper earlier today Ms Roberts writing on the Lacross story had a very tenuous relationship to the truth. From her interview on the Today show I'm thinking the A-Rod book is cut from the same cloth. And A-Rod has some fans and supporters that the Rich White Boys at Duke didn't have. I'm hoping someone will stand up and call bucksnort on this lying POS.

Debrah said...

I'm sure this is a ruling that Selena can sink her teeth into.

jamil hussein said...

to: 5/4/09 10:11 PM
"Why the New York Times permitted Selena Roberts to continue to write about the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax after her early columns blew up in its face, I cannot fathom. And why her book publisher permitted her to cite confidential sources after her track record at The Times is another mystery."

You are joking, right? NYT is an Orwellian political extremist publication. I think anybody can see that based on brief exposure to NYT. I arrived this country 10 years ago without strong political opinions (in fact, I was a "bill clinton democrat"). I read NYT every day. In few months or so I realized how annoying and 1-sided it was, but I still continued to read (and buy) it. Eventually, it became evident that NYT is nothing more than outright propaganda outlet. I stopped buying that. If I needed to read left-wing fabrications, Dan Rather was available for free. Based on their financial turmoil, I suspect many others felt the same.

How anybody ever trusted NYT is beyond me. Duke Lacrosse Hoax reporting was not the exception to the rule. It was standard NYT piece, fitting to their narrative.

Sara K said...

Great work, and thanks for the effort it took to get it all together in one post. I realize that Costas and Verducci are basically talking heads for MLB Network now, but I did still have some respect for them, until the Roberts interview the other night. Costas delicately hints at her credibility issues before skipping merrily to the next point, Verducci falls all over himself to defend Roberts' professionalism...absolutely nauseating.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The NYT is not about news any more, it is just a propaganda orifice... Good riddance when it finally croaks!

Anonymous said...

Jamil Hussein @ 8:35 AM
Anonymous @ 11:07 AM:

There was a long period, I would say from after World War II up through the 1980s, or even the 1990s, when The New York Times was, in fact, considered (and considered itself) to be "The Newspaper of Record." It was generally believed that if The NY Times stated something, you could take it to the bank. The venerable and estimable Abe Rosenthal was the top editor at The Times. The paper's editorial policy was generally left-of-center, but carefully and thoughtfully so. It examined public issues with true fairness and objectivity, as well as or better than any other U.S. newspaper. But then something happened.

Prof. Bill Anderson and I have been going back and forth on this blog about the mainstream media. I maintained that most journalists at major newspapers -- and most of the lesser papers -- were, in fact, fair and objective to the best of their ability. In other words -- no meta-narratives.

But now, I don't know. We can still look back at top-notch reporting and analysis of issues in the media. But the flubbing of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax and Selena Roberts' horrendous columns don't fit into that image of The Newspaper of Record.

I wish I had an answer. My faith has been seriously shaken.

Gus W.

Debrah said...

Someone please invent another scandal or tragedy.


The Triangle is overridden with the worn and ridiculous John and Elizabeth Edwards saga.

Now their cornpone marital life is moving to the Oprah circuit this week.

Can't Selena do a hit piece on those two drones next?

Anonymous said...

Serena Roberts dabbles in innuendo, half truths, outright lies and then hides behind the shield of anonymous sources. So much for being a hard-hitting journalist who endeavors to seek the truth - whatever it might be.
If she truly believed that Alex Rodriguez is a roid -juiced player, then uncover real evidence. Wait, that might mean that one has to work hard, follow every lead, account for every statement - test what one discovers to make sure that it is the truth - in other words, work hard (like Bruce Bannon did) to get to the bottom of things. For Roberts, it is much easier to rely on hearsay and then report her own suppositions as truth. That is not reporting, it is gossip - Selena Roberts is nothing more and northing less that a "celebrity" sports gossip columnist.

Art Deco said...

One might regard Selena Roberts' unwillingness to admit error or make amends as an idiosyncratic character defect. It is also quite possible that Selena Roberts' conception of who she is and what she is worth is crucially dependent on adhering to a set of guises and poses which incorporate an animus toward various socially-approved objects of contempt, and that this same pathology is very much at large on the faculty of Trinity College (see Deutsch, Sarah).

Debrah said...


Call Reverend Barber and Al McSurely.

Another "high-tech lynching" needed.They'll have to drum up another emotional YouTube presentation and go on the road again.

Anonymous said...

In some ways it's interesting and useful to watch Selena continue to try (unsuccessfully) to dance between the raindrops. She may not realize just how good a job she's doing of demonstrating how weak her position really is. I mean, c'mon Selena - you actually expect people to buy the notion that your columns on this case were dealing exclusively with the nasty Lacrosse 'culture', and were not presuming criminal guilt through the presentation of falsehoods?

I think the truth is she doesn't really expect that. But she's totally committed to the 'narrative' and the idea that she can't admit even the least mistake. No sane person could honestly believe her early columns say what she now claims they do. But at least she's found a way to pretend she's not a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

KC gives us this from Newsday:
Roberts acknowledged that disgraced and disbarred district attorney Mike Nifong did a "horrible" job on the criminal caseI note that the word "horrible" cuts two ways here. What Nifong tried to do (obtain convictions for a crime he knew didn't happen) certainly was horrible.

But Selena could also mean that if instead of that turkey Nifong the case had been in the hands of a sufficiently shrewd DA, perhaps it could have been forced to trial in Durham - then that evil Lacrosse "culture" would have received a righteous punishment! (Ruining, it's true, the lives of three innocent young men - but hey, the "narrative" trumps all.)

Bill Anderson said...

As long as we are talking about "culture," why not take a hard look at the culture that pervades mainstream journalism right now? Salena Roberts is a good example of someone who is arrogant, dishonest, and nasty. So, she becomes a journalist where she supposedly stands for truth. Right.

At least my old schoolmate Tom Jolly finally (finally) admitted that maybe, just maybe, he and his colleagues screwed up royally. Well, I have a word for Tom and any other journalist who deals at all with prosecutors: ask questions. Ask lots of questions.

Stop treating prosecutors like royalty and start asking the hard questions about evidence and procedure. It is amazing what one finds when one asks questions.

Debrah said...

TO Gus (2:10 PM)--

A lot of people think that the Times began going downhill when Howell Raines reigned.

He was responsible for bringing people like Jayson Blair to the paper; however, as we all know, it's much more complicated than that.

Anonymous said...

I have boycotted the NYT since this article and olde Duff's stuff. I am happy to see them in the red and going out of business. They deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson @8:20 PM:

Right you are. Ask many questions, and treat BOTH prosecutors and defense attorneys like fallible human beings with axes to grind.

Also, examine all documents you can get your hands on, from whatever source. Finally, go back and forth asking questions of each side (and examining any new documents) until it becomes clear where the strongest and weakest points of each side's argument are. Then figure out from there who is telling the truth.

But you must learn the subject thoroughly. And you must be skeptical of ALL sources.


Gus W.

Debrah said...

Interesting viewpoint from a libertarian.

Steroids hysteria

Anonymous said...

An update to Jason Whitlock's article on Roberts with mention of DIW and link to the blog:

"You can read a detailed analysis of Roberts' many Duke lacrosse errors at this blog."

Debrah said...

The direct link to Whitlock's column

Debrah said...


Competition for Cooper?

Anonymous said...

Jayson Blair was that you?

Anonymous said...

An article from Minding The Campus about a conference, apparently one-sided, holden last Friday at CUNY.

An Academic(?) Conference to Combat the Right

Posted by John Leo

""Last Friday, a 6-hour conference at the City University of New York (CUNY) graduate center examined "rightist efforts, from fiscally or socially conservative movements to hate groups." It apparently raised no eyebrows, though if the meeting had set out to examine "leftist efforts, from fiscally and socially liberal movements to the Unabomber and animal rights terrorists," people might have wondered if it was a legitimate academic meeting or a highly partisan event posing as just another academic seminar.""

Whole article at:

AJ Detmer said...

It would be great if you could work in media bias regarding Roberts' claims and how seriously ESPN, SI, and the NYT (all of her employers) take them

gwallan said...

Selena, Nancy, the (I won't say what I think) 88 and other assorted fools could regain some credibility with me by criticising this woman's behaviour.

Seems a few folks are openly leaping to her defense already.

Subway Squawkers said...

I've reviewed Roberts' book for my blog, and catalogued the errors and distortions in her book:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for referencing Jason Whitlock's columns. I agree with what he says and the latest column made me laugh out loud. Selena Roberts is a symptom of a system that wants to control what you think and tells you right up front what to think. Jason is not buying into her groupthink because he sees that she has lied for her own ends in the past and does not care which innocent people suffer. Jason makes this point in the conclusion of his column.

Gary Packwood said...


We certainly are moving this discussion up into the intellectual stratosphere where credibility along with shaming and shunning are important point of discussion among the intellectual elite.

Such talk is just point/counterpoint for the chardonnay sipping crowd on the veranda at the heavily endowed garden at private wealthy universities.

The average person however wants to know if the bad guys who harmed the Duke lacrosse team members have been slowed down and brought to justice.

Where's The Beef?

Anonymous said...

Jason Whitlock talking about Selena Robert's credibility? This from the man who jumped on the Sean Taylor murder before any evidence was out blaming it on Taylor's past (along with his usual targets, the black KKK and hip-hop). This is the same man who was critical of the Rutger's women's basketball coach for standing up for her players after that idiot Imus shot his mouth off again. I will take Roberts as a credible journalist before Whitlock any day.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 7.54:

I'd be curious as to what items that Roberts has written quoted in the above post make you consider her as a "credible journalist."

Anonymous said...

Selena simply makes things up, twisted the truth and distorts reality with her "culture" gargbage. blah blah blah.....Her source is herself..She just wants to sell books and she does it at the expense of other people. There is not one wit of truth in her writing..pure fiction, fantasy, or should I say it falls in the horror genre.

a Nice NJ Guy said...

re: the 7:54's comment & 8:08 response:

KC's rapier thrust to the heart of the matter ....

You rock, Dr. Johnson.

becket03 said...

Between Whitlock and KC, Roberts has been thoroughly crushed. I don't think I've seen anybody that completely flattened since Wile E. Coyote steamrollered the Road Runner.

Anonymous said...

Here is a list of her NY Times columns:

I haven't read all of her columns nor have I read all of Whitlock's. Generally speaking based on what I have read, I find Robert's more credible and subjectively I find hers to be more interesting and enjoyable. I don't believe the ultimate standard for credibility revolves around their views of the Duke Lacrosse incident. Just my opinion.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 9.22:

I, like you, do not believe "the ultimate standard for credibility revolves around their views of the Duke Lacrosse incident."

I do, however, believe that a columnist who (a) pens a column riddled with factual inaccuracies; (b) refuses to correct those inaccuracies; and then (c) a few years later, outright lies about what she's written lacks credibility.

It happens that those columns were about the lacrosse incident. Perhaps--for reason for reasons unknown--Roberts exhibited this behavior on just the lacrosse incident, and in all other topics has produced more "interesting and enjoyable" columns.

That strikes me as highly unlikely, but, of course, anything's possible.

Anonymous said...


You are in no position to call in question Selena Roberts credibility because you win by a landslide in dishonesty. Do you remember what you stated about the "Chan Hall sentiment" at the NCCU Forum?


Which 2 people did you speak to that attended the rally? Lets have names? It wouldn't be someone from Liestoppers or one of your regular commenters, would it?

Your sly strategy is so transparent. How dare you look into someone else's crediblity without correcting your own.

Maybe this will help jog your memory about the "sentiment" of how the entire community was feeling at that forum. After viewing the video, I expect you to make the proper corrections.

Debrah said...

TO 12:28 PM--

How dare you come to this forum in your anonymous regalia and tell anyone what kind of town Durham, NC is.

Many of us saw those people at the NCCU forum on the news ad nauseum and we heard what came from their mouths.

Before there was ANY evidence of guilt.

We saw how they gleefully welcomed the New Black Panthers into the town as members of that group threatened the lives of the accused.

I don't think you want to get into a verbal chess match with me about Durham.

And my personal knowledge extends FAR beyond their abominable behavior during the Lacrosse Hoax.

KC has always chronicled exactly what took place there.

You cannot change what the entire global community witnessed.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 5/8/09 12:28 PM said...

...Maybe this will help jog your memory about the "sentiment" of how the entire community was feeling at that forum.
I have never seen that video and I am most impressed with the comments and questions that came from the NCCU students.

I was also taken with how much planning had clearly taken place prior to that forum to enrage those students to take a stand against un-named and un-seen and un-known enemies.

Those NCCU students were tricked by adults who had been working behind the scenes to advance their own personal agendas.

They were used and you know, I'll bet they'll never forget those who staged that modern day lynch mob.

My best regards go out to those students as they graduate and pursue their dreams. I know now they will be asking many questions about 'the enemy' before they attend their next community forum.

And so will I!

a Nice NJ Guy said...

to the 12:28 -

Chan Hall Sentiment ?? right on the DIW link you posted:

“[Chan] Hall said he wanted to see the Duke students prosecuted ‘whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past.’” (NCCU student government leader Chan Hall, quoted in Newsweek, May 1, 2006 issue)"

And exactly WHAT is your point ??
...That NCCU students were a lynch mob?
...That NCCU students were out to "Get Whitey".
...That there is a huge power grab in North Carolina (and elsewhere), using racial animosity as the lever,
...That FACTS do not matter... only metanarratives

W. R. Chambers said...

Sorry if this is off topic but ..... As I see it K.C. is using an historians skills and methods to comment on history as it happens... at least in a sense. His constant reference to actual texts and insistence on evidence is what I imagine historians do - although I don't really know how historians do history.

I'm curious if anyone else (including K.C.) holds a similar view and if anyone knows of anyone else who takes an approach similar to K.C. Glenn Greenwald comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that there was a story in the Scotsman newspaper titled Who broke the New York Times and it was not a surprise that it came 3 years before the Duke Lacrosse hoax.
It has been declining for a while and the remedy (Blair, Roberts) there was a "whiff of old-fashioned rectitude that owes something to Thomas Gradgrind’s dictum in Hard Times, that "facts, and fact alone, are wanted in life"" but that time is long gone.